Cow's milk (whole)
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 252 kJ (60 kcal)
Carbohydrates 5.26 g
- Sugars 5.26 g
- Lactose 5.26 g
Fat 3.25 g
- saturated 1.865 g
- monounsaturated 0.812 g
- polyunsaturated 0.195 g
Protein 3.22 g
- Tryptophan 0.075 g
- Threonine 0.143 g
- Isoleucine 0.165 g
- Leucine 0.265 g
- Lysine 0.140 g
- Methionine 0.075 g
- Cystine 0.017 g
- Phenylalanine 0.147 g
- Tyrosine 0.152 g
- Valine 0.192 g
- Arginine 0.075 g
- Histidine 0.075 g
- Alanine 0.103 g
- Aspartic acid 0.237 g
- Glutamic acid 0.648 g
- Glycine 0.075 g
- Proline 0.342 g
- Serine 0.107 g
Water 88.32 g
Vitamin A equiv. 28 µg (3%)
Thiamine (Vit. B1) 0.044 mg (3%)
Riboflavin (Vit. B2) 0.183 mg (12%)
Vitamin B12 0.44 µg (18%)
Vitamin D 40 IU (10%)
Calcium 113 mg (11%)
Magnesium 10 mg (3%)
Potassium 143 mg (3%)
Sodium 43 mg (2%)
100 mL corresponds to 103 g.
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient database
Nutrition and health
See also: Fat content of milk
The composition of milk differs widely among species. Factors such as the type of protein; the proportion of protein, fat, and sugar; the levels of various vitamins and minerals; and the size of the butterfat globules, and the strength of the curd are among those than may vary.For example:
Human milk contains, on average, 1.1% protein, 4.2% fat, 7.0% lactose (a sugar), and supplies 72 kcal of energy per 100 grams.
Cow milk contains, on average, 3.4% protein, 3.6% fat, and 4.6% lactose, 0.7% minerals and supplies 66 kcal of energy per 100 grams. See also Nutritional value further on.
Donkey and horse milk have the lowest fat content, while the milk of seals and whales may contain more than 50% fat. High fat content is not unique to aquatic mammals. Guinea pig milk has an average fat content of 46%.
Milk composition analysis, per 100 grams
Constituents Unit Cow Goat Sheep Water
Water g 87.8 88.9 83.0 81.1
Protein g 3.2 3.1 5.4 4.5
Fat g 3.9 3.5 6.0 8.0
Carbohydrate g 4.8 4.4 5.1 4.9
Energy kcal 66 60 95 110
Energy kJ 275 253 396 463
Sugars (lactose) g 4.8 4.4 5.1 4.9
Cholesterol mg 14 10 11 8
Calcium mg 120 100 170 195
Saturated fatty acids g 2.4 2.3 3.8 4.2
Monounsaturated fatty acids g 1.1 0.8 1.5 1.7
Polyunsaturated fatty acids g 0.1 0.1 0.3 0.2
These compositions vary by breed, animal, and point in the lactation period.
Milk fat percentages
Cow breed Approximate percentage
Brown Swiss 4.0
The protein range for these four breeds is 3.3% to 3.9%, while the lactose range is 4.7% to 4.9%.
Milk fat percentages may be manipulated by dairy farmers' stock diet formulation strategies. Mastitis infection can cause fat levels to decline.
Processed cow's milk was formulated to contain differing amounts of fat during the 1950s. One cup (250 ml) of 2%-fat cow's milk contains 285 mg of calcium, which represents 22% to 29% of the daily recommended intake (DRI) of calcium for an adult. Depending on the age, milk contains 8 grams of protein, and a number of other nutrients (either naturally or through fortification) including:
The amount of calcium from milk that is absorbed by the human body is disputed. Calcium from dairy products has a greater bioavailability than calcium from certain vegetables, such as spinach, that contain high levels of calcium-chelating agents, but a similar or lesser bioavailability than calcium from low-oxalate vegetables such as kale, broccoli, or other vegetables in the Brassica genus.
A 2006 study found that for women desiring to have a child, those who consume full fat dairy products may slightly increase their fertility, while those consuming low fat dairy products may slightly reduce their fertility.
Numerous studies have found that conjugated linoleic acid, found mainly in milk, meat and dairy products, provides several health benefits including prevention of atherosclerosis, different types of cancer, and hypertension and improved immune function.
There is recent evidence suggesting consumption of milk is effective at promoting muscle growth and improving post exercise muscle recovery.In 2010, scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health identified a substance in dairy fat, trans-palmitoleic acid, that may substantially reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. The researchers examined participants who have been followed for 20 years in an observational study to evaluate risk factors for cardiovascular diseases in older adults. During follow-up it was found that individuals with higher circulating levels of trans-palmitoleic acid had a much lower risk of developing diabetes, with about a 60% lower risk among participants in the highest quintile (fifth) of trans-palmitoleic acid levels.
Main article: lactose intolerance
Lactose, the disaccharide sugar component of all milk must be cleaved in the small intestine by the enzyme lactase in order for its constituents, galactose and glucose, to be absorbed. The production of this enzyme declines significantly after weaning in all mammals. Consequently, many humans become unable to digest lactose properly as they mature. There is a great deal of variance, with some individuals reacting badly to even small amounts of lactose, some able to consume moderate quantities, and some able to consume large quantities of milk and other dairy products without problems. The gene in humans that controls lactase production, and hence lactose tolerance/intolerance is labeled C/T-13910. When an individual consumes milk without producing sufficient lactase, they may suffer diarrhea, intestinal gas, cramps and bloating, as the undigested lactose travels through the gastrointestinal tract and serves as nourishment for intestinal microflora who excrete gas, a process known as anaerobic respiration.
It is estimated that 30 to 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant, including 75% of Native Americans and African Americans, and 90% of Asian Americans. Lactose intolerance is less common among those descended from northern Europeans. Other genetic groups that have a lower amount of lactose intolerance are the the Tuareg of the Sahara, the Fulani of the West African Sahel, and the Beja and Kabbabish of Sudan, as well as possibly the Tutsi population of the Uganda-Rwanda area.Another locus of lactose tolerance is in Northern India.
Lactose intolerance is a natural process and there is no reliable way to prevent or reverse it.
Some studies suggest that milk consumption may increase the risk of suffering from certain health problems. Cow milk allergy (CMA) is an immunologically mediated adverse reaction to one or more cow's milk proteins. Rarely is it severe enough to cause death.
Milk contains casein, a substance that breaks down in the human stomach to produce casomorphin, an opioid peptide. In the early 1990s it was hypothesized that casomorphin can cause or aggravate autism spectrum disorders,and casein-free diets are widely promoted. Studies supporting these claims have had significant flaws, and the data are inadequate to guide autism treatment recommendations.
A study demonstrated that men who drink a large amount of milk and consume dairy products were at a slightly increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease; the effect for women was smaller. The reason behind this is not fully understood, and it also remains unclear why there is less of a risk for women.Several sources suggest a correlation between high calcium intake (2000 mg per day, or twice the U.S. recommended daily allowance, equivalent to six or more glasses of milk per day) and prostate cancer.A large study specifically implicates dairy, i.e., low-fat milk and other dairy to which vitamin A palmitate has been added.
A review published by the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research states that at least eleven human population studies have linked excessive dairy product consumption and prostate cancer.
Medical studies also have shown a possible link between milk consumption and the exacerbation of diseases such as Crohn's disease, Hirschsprung's disease–mimicking symptoms in babies with existing cow's milk allergies, and the aggravation of Behçet's disease.
Bovine growth hormone supplementation
Since November 1993, with FDA approval,Monsanto has been selling recombinant bovine somatotropin (rbST), also called rBGH, to dairy farmers. Cows produce bovine growth hormone naturally, but some producers administer an additional recombinant version of BGH which is produced through a genetically engineered E. coli because it increases milk production. Bovine growth hormone also stimulates liver production of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF1). Monsanto has stated that both of these compounds are harmless given the levels found in milk and the effects of pasteurization, however, Monsanto's own tests, conducted in 1987, demonstrated that statistically significant growth stimulating effects were induced in organs of adult rats by feeding IGF-1 at low dose levels for only two weeks. "Drinking rBGH milk would thus be expected to significantly increase IGF-1 blood levels and consequently to increase risks of developing breast cancer and promoting its invasiveness."
On June 9, 2006, the largest milk processor in the world and the two largest supermarkets in the United States--Dean Foods, Wal-Mart, and Kroger--announced that they are "on a nationwide search for rBGH-free milk." Milk from cows given rBST may be sold in the United States, and the FDA stated that no significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rBST-treated and that from non-rBST-treated cows. Milk that advertises that it comes from cows not treated with rBST, is required to state this finding on its label.
Cows receiving rBGH supplements may more frequently contract an udder infection known as mastitis. Problems with mastitis have led to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Japan banning milk from rBST treated cows. Mastitis, among other diseases, may be responsible for the fact that levels of white blood cells in milk vary naturally.In the European Union, rBGH is banned.
Vegans and some other vegetarians do not consume milk for a variety of reasons. They may object to features of dairy farming including the necessity of killing almost all the male offspring of dairy cows (either by disposal soon after birth, for veal production, or for beef), the routine separation of mother and calf soon after birth, other perceived inhumane treatment of dairy cattle, and culling of cows after their productive lives.
Flavored milk in U.S. schools
According to an article in The New York Times, milk must be offered at every meal if a United States school district wishes to get reimbursement from the federal government. A quarter of the largest school districts in the U.S. offer rice or soy milk and almost 17% of all U.S. school districts offer lactose-free milk. Seventy-one percent of the milk served in the U.S. is flavored, causing some school districts to propose a ban because flavored milk has added sugars. The Boulder, Colorado school district banned flavored milk in 2009 and instead installed a dispenser that keeps the milk colder.
Varieties and brands
Milk products are sold in a number of varieties based on types/degrees of
additives (e.g., vitamins),
age (e.g., cheddar),
coagulation (e.g., cottage cheese),
farming method (e.g., organic, grass-fed).
fat content (e.g., half and half),
fermentation (e.g., buttermilk),
flavoring (e.g., chocolate),
homogenization (e.g., cream top),
mammal (e.g., cow, goat, sheep),
packaging (e.g., bottle),
pasteurization (e.g., raw milk),
water content (e.g., dry milk)
Milk preserved by the UHT process does not need to be refrigerated before opening and has a longer shelf life than milk in ordinary packaging. It is typically sold unrefrigerated in the UK, Europe, Latin America, and Australia.